“As a parent of a graduating high school senior, I can tell you first-hand that this day comes much sooner than you anticipate or expect. I remember thinking this day would come ‘some day’ and that we had plenty of time to save for the college price tag as it was very far into the future. Now, that ‘some day in the future’ has suddenly arrived. After multiple proms, many high school sporting events, finals, and end-of-the high school career activities, I began seriously contemplating the college price tag that’s now right upon us. Although I had opened a college savings account for our son as a toddler, and encouraged him to excel at school, organizations, and sports with high hopes of potential scholarships, I can tell you it was no match for the costs we’re faced with for the next four years. Although we’re a double-income family, we still have other children and other expenses. The question rings in my mind, as I’m sure it does many families, “How can we afford all of this?” – Concerned Parent, Any Town, USA

Does this sound like your situation? If so, you’re not alone. The rising cost of a college education has many parents and students feeling the financial strain. If you’ve recently had your first child or he or she is already a teenager, it’s never too soon or too late to start saving for college. And, if you’re like many parents, and the time is already here, just remember there are options.

According to The College Board, the average cost at a “moderate” college for in-state public tuition for the 2016–2017 academic year averaged $24,610 and it doubled at a private college, averaging $49,320. It’s certainly worth the time to do some research to find those colleges offering the program(s) your son or daughter is interested in at the most reasonable cost. What’s more, a public college with in-state tuition will offer considerable savings for you and your child.

Prior to applying to any colleges, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA form, either online or in print. During this application process, it will ask for colleges your son or daughter is interested in attending. Those schools will then provide you with what, if any, type of financial aid you or your child is qualified to receive.

Depending on your financial situation, discuss various options with the college financial services department to help your child achieve his or her dreams of attending college.

1) Consider on-campus work-study programs for your student. Having your child contribute in the costs is certainly acceptable in all financial situations.

2) Check out every potential scholarship option and apply to all applicable scholarships. Remember, most applications have a deadline date, so be sure to get them turned in ahead of schedule.

3) Review what, if any, student and/or parent loans are available to you and your child.

4) Discuss options with your financial services provider, such as utilizing a home equity line of credit or applying for a personal loan to cover full or partial costs.

5) Save early and save often, if possible. But, if you find the time to send your son or daughter to college is already here, don’t panic. We’re here to help.

 

“Be open to discussing the topic, but remember, unless your income increases drastically or you receive an unexpected windfall, you can only contribute what you can contribute, said David Presson, Director-Investment Services at First Bank. "Bankrupting yourself to send your child to college isn’t financially sound for either one of you.”

“Financial situations change often, and if, for example, your child is now planning to work during school or has gained an unexpected scholarship, the ‘how to pay for college’ conversation might need to be revisited regularly,” said David Presson, Director-Investment Services at First Bank.

As always, speak to the knowledgeable team at First Bank to help you plan for immediate or future college expenses.